Abstract The interaction of an oxygen atom with various gold surfaces was examined computationally using density functional theory. The relative binding energies for a range of possible adatom locations on each surface were obtained. The results demonstrated the relative importance of low-coordinated gold atoms to bind oxygen for a particular surface and a preference for three-fold adatom coordination over the two-fold and single-coordination sites. Pseudo-potential energy curves were obtained by following the calculated energy as a function of surface position. These general results provide a reference for the interaction of oxygen atoms with gold nanoparticles that may project faces similar to the surfaces studied here.